Fishermen need to be taught more about laws relating to the sea and encouraged to go offshore fishing as a way to confirm Vietnam's sovereignty over its territorial waters, officials said at a seminar Wednesday.
"Only by reaching offshore can we get rich from the sea, and protect the country's waters and islands at the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes," said Tran Ngoc Nguyen, chairman of Ly Son District's People's Committee, at a seminar held in the central province of Quang Ngai.
Many participants at the meeting, held by the province in cooperation with the Central Department of Propaganda and Training, agreed with Nguyen. They said that the history of Vietnam's sovereignty over the two archipelagoes in the East Sea also needs to be promoted better among fishermen.
"Each fisherman operating at sea is like a border guard and the eye of related agencies in protecting the country's border security," said Nguyen Bac Son, deputy chief of the Central Department of Propaganda and Training.
According to Son, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa's waters were Vietnam's traditional fishing ground, so there's nothing wrong with Vietnamese fishermen continuing the activity.
However, they need to understand the laws well and comply with them. They should also detect foreign boats that violate Vietnam's sovereignty by entering its territorial waters, he said.
Son emphasized that Ly Son is an outpost island for the nation and as such, the local government needs to make plans to maintain national security alongside the island's socioeconomic development.
Currently the island hosts 409 boats with 2,850 sailors, Nguyen said.
Last year, four local boats with 52 fishermen were arrested by China while fishing in Hoang Sa's waters, he said, adding the detentions and confiscation of property inflicted losses of some VND1.7 billion ($82,926) in total.
Vietnamese fishermen were also attacked and robbed when their boats took shelter at islands during storms, Nguyen said.
On the other hand, Chinese boats violated Vietnamese waters many times, including on April 3 this year when 12 boats were seen some 40 sea-miles off the coast of Ly Son by border guards.